A Casual Fan’s Guide to the Super Bowl

| Sports Editor

Admit it, you haven’t been paying attention all season. The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday in Miami, but you’re afraid you won’t have too much to talk about at the party this weekend except the commercials. But you’re in luck, here’s some basics for this weekend’s game:

First things first: The Saints play in black and gold. The Colts are in blue and white. Please don’t mess that up.

How they got to the Super Bowl: Each team had a first-round bye in this year’s playoffs. The Saints were the last undefeated team in the NFC (13-3 regular season) and clinched home field advantage in Week 16 when the Vikings lost to the Bears. They led the league in yards and points per game. After losing their last three games, the Saints silenced critics who said their best football was behind them when they handedly defeated Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round 45-14. The NFC championship, on the other hand, was not so easy. “Who Dat” (a Saints cheer, if you were wondering) nation needed a field goal in overtime against the Minnesota Vikings to book their ticket to Miami. Mentioning Tracy Porter’s interception of Brett Favre’s pass that sent the game to overtime could make you seem more football savvy.

The Colts got even closer to being undefeated with a 14-2 regular season record. Quarterback Peyton Manning was named the league’s MVP for the fourth time in his career, earning 39.5 of the possible 50 votes and breaking a tie with Brett Favre for the most MVPs all-time. Their performance against the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round was a dominant 20-3, and when the upset-minded Jets came to town a week later, a 30-17 victory ended New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s chances of a told-ya-so moment on his “we should be favorites” statement earlier in the year.

The Quarterback Showdown: If you like offense, this game should be great. Manning is generally considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and helped his team win Super Bowl XLI in 2007. Manning also holds the slot for fourth all-time career passing rating, right behind Steve Young (who you’ll probably see in a pre-game show). Drew Brees is the captain of the Saints “high flying” offense. He currently holds the NFL record for passes completed in a season and has thrown for 4,338 yards since with 70.6 percent completion for the 2009 season. A fun fact –  the Mannings are from New Orleans and Peyton’s father Archie played for the Saints from 1971-1982.

If you can’t talk quarterbacks: Manning and Brees will have great supporting casts. If you need to drop names, here are some guys to know: for the Saints, safety Darren Sharper, linebackers Mike Fujita and Jonathan Vilma, and tight end Jeremy Shockey – and for the Colts, tight end Dallas Clarke and wide receiver Reggie Wayne help Manning get the job done. Both teams have talented offensive lines (otherwise their quarterbacks might not have such impressive stats). Pay attention to the injury status of the Colts’ defensive end Dwight Freeney.

Most importantly: Take some time to enjoy this annual tradition. Grab your friends, get some food and drink, and have fun.